Updated on August 29, 2018

Identifying CSR Material Topics

Identifying CSR Material Topics

To align and respond effectively to evolving social imperatives and changes in the business environment, Sony has conducted a CSR materiality assessment with BSR, an independent organization with expertise in global CSR trends and international standards, with the aims of validating the focus areas for its CSR activities by incorporating the perspectives of stakeholders and identifying emerging CSR topics relevant to new business areas.

CSR Materiality Assessment Process

The Sony Group is a global organization with a broad business portfolio. Sony is engaged in the development, design, manufacture, and sale of various kinds of electronic equipment and devices for consumer and professional markets as well as game consoles and software. Sony also produces and distributes motion pictures, television programs, music, and digital networks. Sony is also engaged in various financial services businesses through its Japanese insurance subsidiaries and banking operations through a Japanese Internet-based banking subsidiary. Given the diversity of the Group's operations, the expectations of its stakeholders regarding its CSR initiatives also vary. Sony regards CSR materiality assessment as an important process for facilitating its CSR activities, understanding multi-stakeholder expectations, and validating its focus areas in view of business strategies.

In conducting the CSR materiality analysis, we first identified global CSR topics of particular relevance to Sony. Sony then looked at those topics that are most significant today as well as emerging topics of importance to external stakeholders, which include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), customers, and socially responsible investors, as well as at stakeholders' views regarding the changes in roles and responsibilities of corporations. Sony then assessed those topics likely to have impact on its mid- to long-term business strategies and identified topics that are material from both a stakeholder and a business perspective.

Step 1: Identify and classify global CSR topics

Using both internally and externally sourced information, Sony compiled a list of all identified topics it could conceive of as potential items of relevance, categorized related items into groups, and then narrowed the list down to about 40 final items. To identify global CSR topics, Sony referred to relevant sources such as the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines issued by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the United Nations.

See "Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals" for information about Sony's contribution to the goals.

Step 2: Assess the topics from the perspective of Sony and its stakeholders

The global CSR topics identified and classified in the Step 1 were assessed from Sony's perspective by taking into account the following viewpoints:

  • • Persons at Sony in charge of each topic were interviewed to assess the importance of the topics and their relevance for Sony's business
  • • The knowledge of external experts was obtained to assess the relevance of the topics for Sony's business

The same topics were assessed from the perspective of stakeholders by taking into account the following viewpoints:

  • • External experts specializing in areas related to Sony's business, including entertainment, media, ICT, and finance, were interviewed to assess the importance of the topics
  • • Opinions of external experts were obtained to assess the relevance of the topics for key stakeholders, such as NGOs, civil society and community organizations, consumers, and socially responsible investment rating organizations

In addition, Sony also considered issues and concerns expressed by stakeholders during the course of its business activities.

Step 3: Finalize CSR material topics

A presentation of the results of the Step 2 assessment was created, and then reviewed by relevant departments and approved by management. Topics deemed particularly important were finally specified as CSR material topics.

Key Findings

Based on the results of its CSR materiality assessment, the 25 topics listed below were specified as CSR material topics. In addition to topics Sony has already been addressing, the list includes topics such as human rights that encompass multiple areas, as well as topics such as innovation and data security that have been of great importance for Sony but were newly recognized as material from stakeholders' perspectives.

In the Sustainability Report 2018, these CSR material topics are reported in nine focus areas: Innovation, Corporate Governance, Ethics and Compliance, Respect for Human Rights, Employees, Responsible Supply Chain, Quality and Services, Environment, and Community Engagement.

The Sony Group recognizes the importance of these CSR material topics and will work hard to address them all.

Focus area Related material topics Scope Range of impact/
stakeholder group
Innovation
  • Innovation
  • Social application of technologies
  • Design for emerging market needs
  • Sony Group
  • Customers
  • Business partners
Corporate Governance
  • Board independence and diversity
  • Sony Group
  • Shareholders
Ethics and Compliance
  • Ethical business practices
  • Anti-bribery and corruption
  • Data security and privacy
  • Sony Group
  • Customers
  • Shareholders
  • Business partners
  • Employees
  • Other organizations
Respect for
Human Rights
  • Human rights
  • Sony Group
  • Supply chain
  • Customers
  • Business partners
  • Employees
  • Local communities
Employees
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Talent recruitment, retention and development
  • Employee health, wellness and safety
  • Employee dialogue
  • Sony Group
  • Employees
Responsible
Supply Chain
  • Supply chain management
  • Sony Group
  • Supply chain
  • Business partners
  • Local communities
Quality and Services
  • Product quality and safety
  • Customer and audience engagement
  • Accessibility
  • Sony Group
  • Customers
Environment
  • Climate change and energy
  • Biodiversity
  • Water use and management
  • Waste management, effluents and emissions
  • Sustainable product design
  • Raw materials sourcing
  • Sony Group
  • Value chain
  • Customers
  • Business partners
  • Local communities
  • Global environment
Community Engagement
  • Philanthropy and volunteers
  • Local community impact
  • Natural disaster risks
  • Sony Group
  • Local communities

Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. They were formulated based on the outcome of the Millennium Development Goals, which, being established in 2000 with the intention of realizing a better international community, had a target year of 2015. The SDGs are comprised of 169 targets organized under 17 goals related to issues such as poverty, inequality, education, and the environment. The initiative is not only intended for developing nations, but applies to all countries, including advanced countries.
Sony has studied the relationship between the SDGs and its business activities, including its supply chain, and related social impacts and, after discussion among top management, has identified the goals that Sony will seek to contribute to through its business activities.

All of the Sony Group's businesses are united in pursuing sustainable growth under the mission of being "A company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity." The Sony Group’s "reason for being" lies in its ability to contribute to society through innovation, and this is the mission the world expects Sony to achieve. This is directly related to SDG 9, "Industry, innovation and infrastructure." Sony also seeks to contribute to SDGs 3, "Good health and well-being," 5, "Gender equality," 8, "Decent work and economic growth," and 17, "Partnerships for the goals," through its business activities.

It is also important to consider the impact of Sony's business activities on SDGs 5, "Gender equality," 8, "Decent work and economic growth," 12, "Responsible consumption and production," and 13, "Climate action." In these areas, Sony conducts ongoing assessments of risks and impacts, and ensures proper information disclosure.

Sony is also committed to making the most of its products, services, and applying its technologies to help accomplish SDGs 4, "Quality education," 5, "Gender equality," 9, "Industry, innovation and infrastructure," and 17, "Partnerships for the goals"—together with its business activities.

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